When is the REAL Sale Made? Hint: It’s not when you think!
Congratulations! You got the deposit check! You can add one more move-in to your list and you’re getting close to hitting your goals. Huzzah! Now…the real sale begins.
Senior living marketing professionals spend a great deal of time strategizing how to bring in new residents, giving the best tours, and executing lead-generating events. All this is terrific. However, it’s what happens AFTER the new resident moves in that is often the deciding factor when it comes to reviews, referrals, and retention.
Can you be sure that all the promises made during the sales process are promises delivered? Is your new resident feeling welcomed and prepared to engage in this new chapter of his or her life? Are family members feeling a sense of relief that Mom and Dad are safe and well cared about in their new home, or do they have a sense of worry and concern?
Consider Dave. He helped his Mom move into a new apartment at an assisted living community. They were happy and she was happy. She was especially excited because the marketing director promised that she’d have brand new cabinets in the apartment on moving day. Moving day came and went and there were no new cabinets. The executive director apologized and said they’d be there the next day. Tomorrow came and went and….no new cabinets. After the 3rd day the executive director stopped returning Dave’s calls. Said Dave, “Mom is upset about the cabinets, but my concern is deeper. They made many promises that I considered far more important and now I have doubts they will deliver.” That comment was made to six friends, with parents of about the same age, only a week after his Mom moved into her new home. This community was starting to lose the sale, directly after collecting the check.
How do you ensure a smooth and happy move-in process, deliver on your promises, and get rave reviews in those first 90 days and beyond? Here are a few tips to help:
- Introduce and Involve key team members earlier in the sales process. Work with maintenance, nursing, life enrichment and other departments to improve communication and make sure you’re making promises that they can keep. Introduce one or two key contacts outside of marketing earlier, so new residents and family members have other familiar faces they can go to with questions instead of always heading back to the sales department.
- Be available on Move-In Day or make sure someone is designated to greet the new resident and their family members. Invest in some luggage carts and other tools to help the process. Have fresh flowers and snacks in the apartment and be open to any way you can help. For example, when the marketing team at The Remington Club in San Diego, CA asked the son of a new resident on move-in day if there was anything else they could do to help, the son replied, “Unless you have a cold six-pack back there, you’ve done everything!” One of the marketing team hopped in his car and came back with a six-pack of beer to the surprise and delight of the family member.
- Provide a Photo Guide of key staff members and ensure that all department heads introduce themselves within the first week. (Not all on Day One – you don’t want to overwhelm the new resident.)
- Inform ALL Staff Members about the new resident, their hobbies, pets, and history. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a “new resident advisory form,” sharing it with department heads AND ensuring they share the information at daily shift meetings. Generate ideas from your staff about how they can make your new residents feel welcome and their family members feel happy about the decision.
- Within 30 Days offer a new resident and family member orientation and social hour, and invite all new residents to have a special lunch with the Executive Director. This is a great opportunity for the ED to get to know each person better and to hear about their experience with your community thus far.
- Within 60 Days have a formal sit-down with the new resident to ensure they are adjusting well. Do this in conjunction with your lifestyle director and invite the resident to be part of a resident committee, to suggest certain activities, or to discuss their wellness goals.
- At 90 Days send a formal survey or have someone call each new resident and their key family members to determine their level of happiness. Ask the tough questions, such as, “What could we have done to make this an even better experience for you?”
Finally, train your team members in customer service, dementia care and other skills they need to provide an excellent experience to your residents. If you want to earn referrals and rave reviews AFTER you collect the check, top-notch training is a necessity, not a luxury. Focus on the experience after the sale and you’ll find that your staff, your residents and their family members will become the best sales tool you have!
About the Author
Donna Cutting is the Founder and CEO of www.RedCarpetLearning.com, a firm that provides tools and training for senior living organizations (and others) to help them engage their teams to improve the customer experience. She’s the author of 2 books on customer service including the Amazon bestseller, “501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet Customer Service.”